SPOILERS AHEAD! (because you cannot talk about a season of a show as a whole without spoilers)
Well, the 10th season of New Who has come to an end recently and so I feel it is time to put into words what I thought of it. And with it, the end (or almost), of the Twelfth Doctor and Moffat.
I have to say that although my favorite episodes are in the Davies era of Who, my favorite arcs and moments are in the Moffat era. I think this is mostly because Davies was mostly episodic whereas Moffat is much more connected so it is easier to pick favorite single stories because they aren’t necessarily tied so heavily to the larger one. He calls back to things from seasons before while Davies had a hard time seeing to the end of one season. Davies had a few great reveals (Bad Wolf anyone?), but Moffat always seemed to be looking at a larger picture. It will be interesting to see how Chibnall handles it. Judging by his work on Broadchurch, I would expect more big picture stuff like Moffat, but then he also wrote Dinosaurs on a Spaceship which, while fun, was not super deep. He also wrote 42, one of my favorite episodes from that season, as well as Hungry Earth/Cold Blood, a very interesting introspection on things, Power of Three, which was more like Dinosaurs on a Spaceship, and lots of Tochwood including my favorite, Countrycide and Fragments. So, judging by past performance, Chibnall is a mixed bag just like Moffat and Davies, which is to be expected.
I will say that, overall, I liked Series 10. Not all of it was super fantastic, though still better than most of what I see is on TV these days. There were some rough moments, some rough episodes, like Thin Ice didn’t do all that much for me, but overall, I think it was very good. It had a lot more episodes that really made you consider things, morality and whatnot, than I remember in other seasons. The three episode arc with the Monks was very good. I really liked The Eaters of Light. And of course, the two part season finale (which I’ll talk more about in a bit since it was the highlight of the season in my opinion).
Bill was a stellar companion. I’m really sad to see her go though. I was kind of hoping she’d do like Rose or Clara did and bridge the gap between Doctors. I know they can’t always do that, but I just wasn’t quite ready to see her go. I’m happy, though, that she got a fair shake. Sure, she went through hell, but her reward was quite nice. She got to see the stars with the girl she fancied, the one that sort of set her on the path to travel with the Doctor. And it was basically said she could return to being human, being her normal self, at any time. If that isn’t a great prize for all the terrible things she went through, I don’t know what is. I am sad she won’t be with the Doctor, but at the same time, I think she’ll be happier traveling with the Pilot. Also, hell, what a callback to the beginning of the season!
It was said to me that something seemed off with the Doctor this season. While I personally didn’t see it, I suppose it’s possible. If anything, I guess he did seem a bit more reckless than usual. Willing to sacrifice himself more than he typically does, though the Doctor is usually pretty happy to do so. It was hypothesized to me that this was possibly because he felt guilty about Clara, even if it was unconsciously since he couldn’t remember her directly. He obviously does have some inkling, as shown by the end of season 9, but nothing concrete. Personally, as shown by his actions throughout The Doctor Falls, I think it was less Clara guilt and more that he’s just tired. Tired of fighting, tired of dying and changing, tired of basically living. He expressed in no uncertain terms he was tired of regenerating. Considering that he had to get a new regeneration cycle to keep going, I wonder if this is common with Time Lords and that’s why most don’t sort of…refresh their regeneration cycles, the Master not withstanding. If you consider that the Eleventh Doctor was not the one that initiated the request for a regeneration cycle reset (thanks Clara), I think it is not only safe to assume, but highly likely that even the Eleventh Doctor would have been just fine without regenerating. Still, as the Doctor is want to do, his death couldn’t be without meaning. If he was going to go out, he’d want it to be saving someone or something. With that in mind, it makes sense he would be so willing to throw himself in harm’s way if he’s trying to essentially kill himself.
But goddamn it Moffat! Did you have to make he regenerate on Christmas again?! Eleven did it, and now Twelve. Do you just like making me have all sorts of sad feels on Christmas? At least Ten had the decency to wait and do it on New Year’s.
Can I also just say how fabulous it was to see John Simm’s Master return? I love Missy, I do, though she was acting odd throughout the season as well for different reasons. I think her isolation caused a lot of introspection that the Master doesn’t typically slow down enough to do. But damn, nothing can beat Simm’s Master. It was just such a treat to see him show back up. I really miss him. I could’ve taken a whole season of him again, but I think the fact that it was basically the last episode made it more special. Okay, okay, he was in Time and World Enough too, but he was in disguise. I wouldn’t really count that until the end when he is revealed. And seeing him and Missy interact was just so much fun. The end of that, though, did show how much Missy had changed. Simm’s Master was still completely insane and hellbent on destroying the Doctor, and just set on causing general mayhem as well. Missy, by the end, did seem to be on the Doctor’s side, though it’s hard to really say for sure since it is, after all, Missy, but the fact that she would not only stand up against her former self, calling him wrong, but stab him and force him to regenerate says a lot.
I also don’t believe the Master/Missy is gone. We have thought that before and yet, there they were.
I was very pleased and surprised to see David Bradley reprise his role as the First Doctor. He really is a spot-on Hartnell impersonator, though somehow more likable than I ever found the First Doctor to be. I’m very interested and excited to see what that Christmas episode has in store…right up to the inevitable end. But now is not the time to think about that!
I am not ready to say goodbye to Capaldi’s Twelfth Doctor. I always say this. Watching a regeneration is hard. You should never be rooting for the Doctor to change. I know the Twelfth Doctor was not everyone’s favorite, and did not manage to topple Tennant, Baker, or probably even Smith in the popularity poles (is Baker still like number two or three in those? I don’t even know. I would assume…I still don’t like him), but I thought he was a great Doctor. I wonder if he would’ve stayed longer if Moffat wasn’t leaving.
Even though I know the Doctor must change, as they always do, doesn’t mean I like going through it again.